Gateball in Geneva

The Swiss classic teams event was held at the CERN croquet club over the weekend 6-7 July 2019, with practice on the Friday.

Five teams competed, with 2 from Japan, 1 Swiss team and 2 composite teams.  We played with Bernard from Belgium and Priska from Germany.  It was also great to see our son Peter back on the gateball field and even better to hear that he enjoyed the tournament.

A double round robin was to be held, but this morphed into two single round robin tournaments with the winners of each to play off.  It will be of little surprise to you, dear reader, that the two Japanese teams dominated proceedings, with the team from Tokyo winning both round robin events.

Overall we had three wins, but the highlight was the second game against Tokyo. 

The score was 8-9 going into the final turn, and if ever there was a lesson against changing your mind as captain, this was it.  Our ball 7 touched 3 in front of gate 2 and my first instinct was to bombard ball 8 sitting tight to the line near gate 2. Instead, we sparked 3 through gate 2 and followed with 7.  An excellent slide by Priska off ball 9 allowed gate 3 to be made and the pole was narrowly missed.  The score was now 11-9, with only 8 to play.  Unfortunately, ball 8 made gates 2 and 3 and also agari, so we lost by 2 points.

The tournament was played in a very friendly spirit, with fantastic catering and was great fun. Thanks to Dave Underhill and the Swiss team for organising such a fantastic event.

Geoff Crook
Woodville Croquet Club

An interesting puzzle from recent Thailand Gateball Doubles Championship

The recent Thailand Gateball Championships were attended by many teams from overseas- two teams even travelled from Europe. Friends of ours from Japan- Keiichi Imagawa and Satoshi Kamijo- enjoyed their experience and were place getters.

One thing puzzled me was in the photos of Satoshi wearing bibs with letters on them. I asked him about this and Satoshi’s reply is worth noting.” This tournament is worth visiting. They use letters marked ‘A’ to ‘D’ bibs in doubles. A and C players are on the same team and B and D on the other side. The stroking order is circular. Player A plays balls 1, 5 and 9 and Player B plays 2,6 and 10 in the first turn. C for 3 and 7 and D for 4 and 8. In the second turn A and C switch their roles”.

Bibs with the letters A, B, C and D are visible. Satoshi is wearing A.

We all know how it can be confusing in a Doubles Championship as to who plays next- particularly when refereeing- so this use of letters on the bibs would seem to be very helpful. Judging from reports from Keiichi and Satoshi, the whole competitions was colourful, competitive but so friendly. Sightseeing around the area of Pattaya was especially popular.

So, perhaps if you planning a trip next year and Thailand is in the mix of your tourist destination, consider forming a composite Aussie team. Everyone knows how friendly a country Thailand is. Contact info@gateball.com.au for more details.

Another game with Satoshi playing in the game and wearing bib A

 

Playing in China

‘The Belt and Road’ International Gateball Invitational Tournament 2018 (“Jinxi Cup”) at Kunshan (near Shanghai)

OK there’s no way of sugar coating it – we placed last out of 16 teams, but what a fantastic experience.

We started our adventure at Shanghai airport, where we were collected by our interpreter (Shirley) and met two lovely fellow competitors from Singapore (the eventual winners!).  The drive to our hotel took about 2 hours and we arrived just in time for dinner with teams hailing from India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong and other provinces of China as well as us Aussies of course.

The next day was the day of the competition, and after breakfast (we sat with the Indonesian team who were very friendly), we boarded our coach and were taken to the venue – a 4 court purpose-built facility with artificial lawns.  After the pre-game entertainment – drumming, singing and dancing (all of which were spectacular), some formalities and practice, the games started.  This involved reporting to the administration tent, performing the toss and then lining up in number order, before marching onto the court to martial music – quite inspiring really, and I was proud to lead out the Woodville team for our first game.

We had been drawn against 3 Chinese teams and were resoundingly beaten by all of them.  I think that the Shanghai team we faced were truly world class – they were almost balletic and although they pummelled us on court, I enjoyed watching them play immensely.  They were accurate, ruthless and on a different plane from us both strategically and with ball placement, despite the lightning fast courts – a real eye opener (however, they did generously put one of our balls through gate 2).

It was interesting to note that these teams were very unforgiving of mistakes.  We made one mistake early in each game – a missed easy touch on ball 2 in game 1, a sparking foul (wrong ball stepped on in game 2) and putting our own ball out in game 3 – and were never allowed the glimmer of an opportunity from these moments on.

By contrast the Chinese teams rarely made any mistakes, were accurate with touches and sparking, and all had a non-playing strategist captain, who without exception used a laser pointer.  Once our balls were out, the Chinese balls hunted in packs and it didn’t really matter where we came on.

The format of the competition was, I thought, ingenious in that all teams had two “finals” games to determine the ultimate competition placings – the winners of each of the four blocks played in a “semi-final” and the winners played to determine 1st and second place, with the losers playing to determine 3rd and fourth.  This was replicated for each place in the blocks, so the second placed teams in each block vied for 5th to 8th, and so on.

Our first “final” (to determine 13th to 16th) was against the Hong Kong team.  We fared a bit better, but still made too many mistakes to win the game.  It was the same story in our 15/16th play off against the Indonesian team.

The next day we were taken to the Jinxi old town for some sightseeing – very different from Shanghai.  Overall the tournament was extremely well organised and had teams of a very high standard. Everyone we met made us feel welcome and we made lots of new friends.  I would encourage anyone who wants to see/play against some high-level teams to have a go at this competition. Thanks to the tournament organisers and our hosts Jiangsu Gateball Sports Association.

Geoff Crook
AdelaIde

Gateball in Tokyo

If you ever find yourself at a loose end in Tokyo on a Saturday morning then we can heartily recommend playing some Gateball near Tokyo Tower.  We arranged to meet our hosts Takayoshi Uemura (Taka) and Tadashi Takahashi (Tad) at Ukai restaurant by the gateball court.  There was a hard court with a fine gravel surface, which was a first for us – we’d only played on grass before.  After being introduced to the local club players (around 15 players) we had a warm up and started the first game.

We soon got used to the fast surface and won our first game and narrowly lost the second.  After that we were divided amongst the local teams and won and lost in equal measure.  Lunch was bought at the local supermarket and we played for most of the day, with different people leaving and arriving at various points.  Everyone was very friendly and despite the language barrier we laughed a lot and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The following day Tad and Taka had arranged for us to compete in the “Monthly Games” at the Olympic park.  Again we were confronted with gravel courts and 8 teams in 2 blocks of 4.  We were introduced to Mr Kazumasa Nakamura (Kaza) who would be playing with us during the day.  It was very hot and the courts played faster than the Tokyo Towers court, and we struggled to get our balls on (competition nerves strike again!). The competition was fierce but good humoured and everyone was again friendly and gracious. The closest we came to any kind of result was in the last game against Taka’s team, after a glorious slide from Trish allowed her to take off most of the opposition balls. Unfortunately we missed the Agari that would have tied the game.

We collected our prize (very practical in the circumstances) and went out with Taka, Tad and Kaza for a very enjoyable dinner at a local bar.

Our prize!

We have an open invite to return and I’m sure any Australian players that are visiting Tokyo would receive an equally warm welcome.  A big thank you to Taka, Tad and Kaza (as well as Michiko for helping with the arrangements) for everything they did for us, and hopefully we’ll meet again soon! One thing we all felt is that we didn’t want to leave Tokyo!

Geoff Crook
Adelaide

GB in BA

Peter Freer spent a great day playing gateball with Gateball Argentina.  Walter Maeto met Peter at the World Champs in Sao Paulo, and asked Peter to come to their regular Sunday event, just outside Buenos Aires.

Lots of players, and we started with 10 minutes of warm-up calisthenics.  The 20 odd teams were split into Over 75 and Under 75, which gives you an idea of the age ranges – but all players were skilful, even if all of us had some bad shots. Eight courts, on fairly long grass. Each team played 8 games, and refereed another 3-4 so a long day. Huge shared meal half way through, and lots of bonhomie!

Several players were sporting kangaroo pins and Canberra Gateball badges, which we’d presented to officials for our World Champ games in Brazil. A really good day!